Monthly Archives: May 2020

EP 346 Why is Entrepreneurship In America Declining?

Risk-takers, dreamers and idea people in America are hedging their bets on that new business they have been imagining for years and it’s of concern to Congress. Recently, the House and Senate set up entrepreneur caucuses to raise the profile of the issue. Inc. Magazine identified six areas where we may see legislative action for entrepreneurs in 2020. And two senators, a Democrat and a Republican have introduced legislation to study the issue further. Considering the fact that small businesses account for almost 41 percent of private-sector payroll and 65 percent of net new job creation, this issue must be taken seriously. We have seen many start-ups get gobbled up by larger and larger companies in the recent period. Wayne Titus III, author of ‘The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Financial Well-Being’, surveys the landscape with us to find out why this trend is occurring. He urges those who have new ideas to reach for their dreams while have the people, systems, advisors and plans in place to execute the vision. He describes concepts like ‘behavorial governance’ and ‘integrative advice’ as being key in this process. If you’re planning to step away from the 9 to 5 work world to run down your dream, please take a listen. Wayne is chock full of good advice.

EP 345 Older Americans Dominate America as Birth Rates Plummet

The Associated Press headline screamed ‘birth decline gives U.S. slowest population growth rate since 1918’. Wow, that was a long time back. So why is this happening now and what are the implications? Thanks to Dowell Myers, a professor of demography and urban planning at USC, we unpack the many issues surrounding the low birth rate. As this goes on various regions of the country are winning new residents while others, like my beloved Northeast, are losing population. All this becomes very important in 2020, a U.S. Census year, when Congressional representation–and political power–are at stake. And since America has always been a youth dominated culture, what happens when the age pyramid is inverted and the old, not the young, dominate the landscape? We’ve seen it happen in countries like Japan and it’s not healthy, or even normal, for a society. Of course, in this description I’ve begged the question of why with a robust millennial generation, of childbearing age, this is happening. You’ll have to listen as we break down those aspects of the story.

EP 344 Criminal Justice Reform Bridges the Partisan Divide Throughout the Country

With the passage of the First Step Act in Congress, then signed into law by President Trump, we see common ground for politicians across the political spectrum to fix a broken criminal justice system. Whether it’s the over criminalization of low level offenses or the tendency to lock more African-Americans up than other populations, states and the federal government are now about the business of looking at the whole system and trying to rectify past abuses. In many cases armed with new studies and a greater understanding of the disparate impacts that ‘tough on crime’ legislation has had, reform is sweeping the country, often led by the states. These reforms touch on not locking people up in the first place and if they have been locked up trying to figure out paths to true rehabilitation and reform. This involves clean slate initiatives so that minor infractions, long past, do not define a person for the rest of their lives to reforms of probation, parole and cash bail. Our guest, Nila Bala, who served as an assistant public defender in Baltimore for years, is now the associate director, criminal justice and civil liberties and resident senior fellow for R Street, a conservative leaning think tank. She writes often for ‘The American Conservative’ describing why these reform initiatives are part of that tradition in America.

EP 343 Drone Technology and Its Impact at Home and on the Battlefield

Recently we were reminded of the power of the drone as a weapon of pinpoint accuracy when Iranian General Qassem Suleimani was taken off of the battlefield by a precision strike at the Baghdad Airport. Drones are being used by the military in a host of different ways and, surprisingly, have been for many years. In the modern era America has deployed them in asymmetrical war zones so that we can survive overhead, do reconnaissance and avoid having more boots on the ground. Yet these technological wonders can be deployed remotely or autonomously from land, air and sea. Here at home, there are an array of uses ranging from public safety, geospatial mapping and recreational use of all types. Drones do raise many questions about how they can and should be deployed in battle, particularly in potential high-intensity conflicts with major powers like China and Russia. Back home we must determine how to insure that drones avoid invading personal space, related to privacy concerns, and air space that other vehicles need to occupy for human safety. Joining us to discuss this topic is Dan Gettinger, founder and co-director of the Center for Study of the Drone at Bard College.

EP 342 How To Lose the War on Cancer: Keep Doing What We’re Doing

There are some who will tell you that we’re making great strides in fighting cancer with more of the same approaches we’ve been trying for the last four decades. Dr. Azra Raza is not one of those experts. An oncologist and the Chan Soon-Shiong Professor of Medicine and Director of the MDS Center at Columbia University considers what we are doing in research and treatment a systemic failure. If we have seen any improvements in survival rates in the recent period improved treatments are not the reason. It results from a reduction in smoking and improvements in screening. And given the hydra-headed nature of the uber label ‘cancer’, a dastardly enemy, indeed, the encouraging developments relate to a few common cancers, like lung, colorectal, breast and prostate. And even with these gains, overall cancer death rates are not dramatically different from what they were in the 1930’s. She explains why what we’re doing in the lab is wrong and how the treatment protocols of cut, burn or poison wreak havoc on the patient as we chase the last malignant cell in the body. Her answer is to turn the paradigm around as her book title suggests and get there before ‘The First Cell’. The book is exquisitely written and yet, at the same time, a painful read given our familiarity with what this process looks like. If there was another apt title for this book it would ‘Enough’. We must chart a new course.

EP 341 The Federal Reserve’s Impact on You and Its Extraordinary Response to the Pandemic

It is really hard for most of us to understand what the Federal Reserve actually does and means to the our pocketbooks. After all it was the former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan, who famously quipped ‘never explain, never excuse’. The invisible hand of the Fed became more apparent during the financial meltdown in 2008 as Ben Bernancke became a key player in fashioning a way out of the crisis. Extraordinary measures were taken to provide liquidity to the financial system here and abroad. The monetary stimulus resulted in cheap money upon which much of the economic success of the last decade has been built. As Danielle DiMartino Booth, our guest and a former advisor to the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas explains in her book, ‘Fed Up’, in the 5000 years of record keeping, debt has never been cheaper than it is today. So we set out in this interview to understand what that means to you and your financial future. We start with the basics so we all have some basic knowledge of the Fed, tie it to fiscal policy, which is governed by Congress and then explains its impacts on Main Street. And while Ron Paul and others have repeatedly raised the notion of ‘end the Fed’, Danielle lays out reforms that she’d like to see to the system to make it work better on behalf of the public. This podcast episode includes additional material describing the unprecedented measures taken by the Federal Reserve in response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

EP 340 Breaking the Two Party Stranglehold on Our Politics

Politics in America has become a zero sum game. My team wins. Your team loses. And this polarization results in a downgrading of our democracy from a ‘full democracy’ to a ‘flawed democracy’ in the eyes of international experts and, more importantly, it results in nothing getting done, which brings on even more frustration. So how do we break this cycle and restore our democracy to better health? According to Lee Drutman, a senior fellow in the Political Reform Program at New America and author of ‘Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop’ the path forward involves bringing multiparty democracy to the United States. Now before you say that third parties have never worked in this country, you have to hear his argument that for many years in the late 20th century we, in effect, had a four party system. And in the last decade we have developed into a country with a fully nationalized, fully sorted two party system divided over existential questions about American identity. With the stakes riding so high on issues, because of the divide, its nearly impossible to compromise of key issues and get anything done. In the process, our system is becoming unworkable. So, what’s the alternative? Our guest asks you to envision the multiparty system, so common around the globe. He’ll explain the advantages and how we can get there.

EP 339 Are Trump’s Trade Policies Working?

Economist Alan Tonelson writes the independent blog Reality Chek and is author of the book, ‘Race to the Bottom’. He wrote that book many administrations back when he saw the practice of outsourcing growing and manufacturing losses pile up. He was critical of a trade policy that was built more on foreign policy objectives, rather than economic ones. And one that benefited large, multi-national companies more than small manufacturers. So we thought it would be a good time to check back with Alan, who has guested with us before, to get his take on President Trump’s trade policy and its impact on American workers and economy going forward. In general, he thinks the get tough strategy is working and he explains why, particularly in the case of the Chinese Phase One deal. Unlike many other economists in this field of study, he also feels that trade deficits do matter and the fact that ours is shrinking somewhat is a good sign. He walks us through the USMCA, or NAFTA II, and describes what it does, particularly for American farmers, and what it doesn’t do to his chagrin. If you want to understand these issues, and only have thirty minutes of time before the weeds get too tall, this is the podcast for you.